Saturday 21st April, 2018
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Lebanon seeks explanation on its Prime Minister’s absence

Sheetal Sukhija - Sunday 12th November, 2017

BEIRUT, Lebanon - After Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri sent shock waves through the country’s politics by announcing his surprise resignation on November 4 - his sudden disappearance has shocked many. 

On Saturday, Lebanon's president urged Saudi Arabia to explain why Saad Hariri had not returned to Beirut since his televised resignation from Riyadh a week ago.

However, since then, Hariri has yet to return to Lebanon and rumours have since swirled that he is being held in Saudi Arabia against his will.

On Saturday, President Michel Aoun called on the kingdom to "clarify the reasons that have prevented the return of PM Hariri to Lebanon to be among his people and supporters."

Aoun added, “The obscurity surrounding the condition of PM Saad Hariri since his resignation a week ago means that all positions and actions declared by him or attributed to him do not reflect the truth. They are instead a result of the ambiguous and obscure conditions (under which) PM Hariri is living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Reports noted that the President has yet to formally accept Hariri's resignation.

He has, in repeated statements criticised the circumstances surrounding the resignation as "unacceptable."

On November 4, in his shock announcement, Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of taking over his country - causing destabilization in the broader region.

He even said that he feared for his life.

Hariri statement prompted fears that Lebanon, which is dominated by rival camps led by Hariri and Hezbollah, would be caught up in spiralling tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

For a week since, Hariri has been absent from Lebanon, sparking rumours that the former prime minister holding Saudi nationality, is under de facto house arrest in the kingdom.

In a televised address on Friday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said, "The head of the Lebanese government is detained in Saudi Arabia, he is banned from returning to Lebanon until now.”

So far, neither the members of Hariri's Al-Moustaqbal party have said they had no information on his fate, while Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil announced that he was launching a "diplomatic campaign to bring back the head of our government of his own free will."

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described Hariri as "a strong partner" and warned against "any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country.”

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